A Maricopa County Superior Court judge has ordered county schools chief Sandra Dowling and the Board of Supervisors to sit down with a mediator.
The group has until Oct. 18 to choose a third-party mediator to help resolve an ongoing dispute over nepotism and misuse of funds or the judge will appoint one for them.
Judge Kenneth Fields also recently ruled that County Treasurer David Schweikert did not violate the law by using additional funds over a period of seven years to make up for money the district overspent from its budgets.
Fields also said Schweikert can continue to draw from additional county funds until the board and Dowling come to an agreement regarding accommodations.
Dowling said the ruling shows the district has been managing its money accurately.
“It validated (Schweikert’s) actions for the past seven years,” she said. “He did it right and so did we.”
Dowling’s lawyer David Cantelme said the district’s finances and budget are “sound” and “balanced” at this point.
“Hopefully we’ll find a mediator . . . to get this thing resolved once and for all,” Cantelme said.
Both sides contend they’ve tried to organize meetings to resolve conflicts, but they’ve never worked out for one reason or another.
Dowling is optimistic about the mediation, which could take place in the next few weeks.
Supervisor Don Stapley said he questions whether the judge can force mediation. “Notwithstanding that, we’ll be happy to sit back down at the table.”
The board continues to push the issue of the Pappas school for homeless children, located in Tempe and Phoenix, because Stapley says the school isn’t serving their needs. “Anybody who wants to know the county’s approach need only go to the state’s test results,” Stapley said. “Pappas schools are failing miserably to educate students there.”